Andrew Clark: Clarifying Republicans’ view on health care

I was in class the other day when someone mentioned Republican efforts to repeal the Democrats’ health care reform legislation.

“Those Republicans,” he said, “They want to repeal it and go back to the old days, when insurance companies could deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

Not only is that not accurate, but it’s a stunningly oversimplified portrayal of President Barack Obama’s health care law. So to all the GW students who may be wondering exactly how this law will affect them, allow me to provide some clarity.

The most popular provision in Obamacare is the ban on insurance companies denying someone coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition, such as arthritis. As young, healthy people at GW, we also support the provision that allows us to stay on our parents’ health care plan until we turn 26.

These two provisions are common sense and progressive reforms that have proven popular, necessary and relatively easy to implement. Republicans actually support them. However, they’re just two tiny portions of a 2,000-page law that sets up dozens of new federal agencies, installs new fines and regulations on businesses and individuals, and slaps new government control over a wide slice of the American economy.

It is becoming clear that many of the features of Obamacare were ill-conceived, miscalculated and dangerously detrimental to our health care in this country. This past weekend, rumors swirled that McDonald’s might drop its employer-sponsored “mini-med” health care plan, which covers 30,000 workers for about $14 a week, leaving them effectively uninsured. McDonald’s points to a new requirement in Obamacare mandating businesses spend at least 80 percent of their premiums on medical care. Micky Dee’s says this is not economically feasible. If the plan drops, these 30,000 workers will be pushed into Medicaid or other subsidized plans, further inflating the cost to U.S. taxpayers.

This is also alarming for private universities that provide their staff with health insurance. When the new rule takes effect in 2011, schools that offer similar mini-med plans to their staff will have to re-evaluate their economic feasibility. This could potentially affect our own University in a negative way.

Other portions of the bill are also potentially damaging. New regulations on the medical services insurance companies must provide in their plans are increasing the costs of coverage, and, thus, pushing insurance companies to raise premiums further. Maternity care, drug rehab and pediatrics are all, among other things, services that by law must now be included in everyone’s health care plan, whether they want to pay for it or not.

What about the cost of Obamacare? We were promised it would actually reduce the deficit, yet now the Congressional Budget Office has come out saying it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars more than originally estimated. Health care spending is now projected to increase more than if the health care bill had not been passed at all. So much for the cost control that we were promised.

Indeed, the one argument liberal supporters of the bill will put forward is that we have now covered 30 million uninsured Americans. Yet this is no panacea to America’s health care woes, while the uninsured will simply be shoved into the already cash-strapped Medicaid programs, as rising health care costs are not showing any signs of slowing down.

The Republicans want to repeal the entire bill and start from scratch, including measures that will actually help reduce costs and expand coverage options to more Americans. Despite what Democrats may want you to think, Republicans are not antagonizing those two popular provisions dealing with pre-existing conditions and until-26 coverage. They would be included with any new health reform bill. But with this mounting surge of bad news, it’s no surprise the Democrats are focusing on these tiny popular portions. They don’t have much else they can defend.

-The writer, a senior majoring in political communications, is a Hatchet columnist.

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